To where did you go yesterday?

Where did you go to yesterday?

Where did you go yesterday?

I see people omit the 'to' a lot. However, I also asked a related question yesterday

Who did you give the keys to?

To whom did you give the keys?

Here, the 'to' seems necessary. Why can you omit the 'to' when talking about places?

  • 2
    Note that if you want to use the objective form of "who", then it's "whom" no matter what order you put the words in. So "Whom did you give the keys to?" would be a correct way to use "whom". Jul 25, 2016 at 4:19
  • @ToddWilcox But see StoneyB's answer below. Maybe "correct" is too confining here? Jul 25, 2016 at 21:11
  • StoneyB has given a great answer, i'd accept if I were you! Dec 8, 2016 at 11:47

2 Answers 2


Where has a double sense, both as an interrogative and as a relative. It may stand for either

  • a preposition phrase (PP) denoting a location or destination—approximately equivalent to at or in or to what/which place

    Where are you? = At what/which place are you?
    Where are you going? = To what/which place are you going?

    But its pro-PP character is already less than obvious when it's used as a relative with a nominal antecedent.

    The place where I am going ... = The place to which I am going ...

    Moreover, there are instances where it is needed to designate an origin rather than a location or destination, and to avoid ambiguity where has to be coupled with a distinct preposition such as from.

    I see where you're going, but I can't make out where you're coming from.

    The first of these permits and the second requires that where should stand for

  • a nominal designating a place, which can act as the object of a preposition. The most formal style deprecates this pronominal use when a location or goal is designated. But this use is very common outside that style:

    Come on, come on, lemme show you where it's at. —Dave Clark Five
    Doesn't have a point of view, Knows not where he's going to —Beatles

    And there's no evident reason in grammar for prohibiting where as object of some prepositions and not others. I myself follow the formal use (I actively avoid situations in which where must be employed with a preposition), and P.E.Dant speaks for his namesakes when he says that where ... to and where ... at are redundant; but those are stylistic judgments, not grammatical ones.

    ADDED, with thanks to ruakh for raising the matter:
    Note, however, that even in the most colloquial registers we avoid using locative prepositions like at and in immediately before where—*Let me show you at where it is— only when they are 'stranded' on the right side of the verb. Goal prepositions (to, by, until) and trajectory and origin prepositions (via, through, from) are borderline: they are apt to sound contrived in formal registers and pedantic in colloquial registers. My advice is that you avoid using where in situations where these constructions would be needed and instead use a frank noun: Which road did you take? or What countries are you going to?

  • Does when follow the same rules as where, since both time and place require a preposition? Instead of to what place, it would be at what time.
    – Lemu17
    Jul 25, 2016 at 0:36
  • When can be used with a preposition, in much the same circumstances--I remember that from when I was In Austria--but it's much less common, perhaps because so much of the burden of defining the sense of a temporal reference rests on the verb. For instance, you'll rarely hear anybody say From when do you work in the morning?--instead we say When do you start work in the morning? Jul 25, 2016 at 0:49
  • From might not be the best example, since it differs from other prepositions in that it can take some adverbial complements that others cannot (for example, contrast "from inside the house", which is perfectly grammatical, with *"to inside the house" and *"at inside the house", which are not grammatical). But there's no problem with (for example) until when.
    – ruakh
    Jul 25, 2016 at 5:36
  • Also, even in forms of the language where "where [...] to" and "where [...] at" are common, we can't say *"to here" or *"at there"; so I don't know if I agree that "there's no evident reason in grammar for prohibiting where as object of some prepositions and not others", if by that you mean that such a rule would make no sense if it existed.
    – ruakh
    Jul 25, 2016 at 5:43
  • @ruakh You make some good points; I will modify my Answer to address them. Jul 25, 2016 at 10:28

Of your first three examples, only the second is correct:

Where did you go yesterday?

The preposition to is not omitted in this usage; rather, it is redundant and incorrect usage in the other two (although you will frequently hear "Where did you go to?" in colloquial American speech.) It is redundant because it is unnecessary: the meaning is clear without it.

In your other two examples, to is necessary because the meaning is not clear without it:

Who(m) did you give the keys?

  • What makes the 'to' redundant? I can understand the sentence without it, maybe because I have heard enough of such sentences, but I can't understand the reason.
    – Lemu17
    Jul 24, 2016 at 23:45
  • @Lemu17 It is redundant because the sentence is clear without it. Similarly, "at" is redundant in "Where are you at?" See this link. Jul 25, 2016 at 0:07
  • Do certain verbs default to certain prepositions? Like as 'at' for 'be', because you would define the preposition in 'Where are you from?'
    – Lemu17
    Jul 25, 2016 at 0:10
  • @Lemu17 If you are asking "Does to go have to take to?" the answer is "No." To go can be used without any preposition at all: I go walking. I don't understand "define the preposition." Jul 25, 2016 at 0:15
  • 1
    There are many redundancies in English grammar which are not merely permissible but obligatory--distinct 3psg endings, for instance, or most uses of the copula. Jul 25, 2016 at 0:20

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